Sherry’s neighbor Sarah has a beautiful Siamese cat. Sherry has a beautiful German Shepherd. Unfortunately, the two animals do not get on beautifully! Sherry’s Shepherd chases Sarah’s Siamese at every opportunity. Usually, it is not a huge problem, as Sherry keeps her dog in a fenced yard, but yesterday, the gate was left open, and the Shepherd got out, saw the cat and chased it into the street. Both animals narrowly missed being hit by cars, much to Sherry and Sarah's horror, as they watched on, helpless to stop a near disaster!
Even if you keep your German Shepherd in an enclosed area and on a leash, he can get loose sometimes, or a cat can end up in your yard. Perhaps you want to introduce a cat to your home. Whatever the cat scenario, teaching your German Shepherd not to chase cats is important for the cats' safety, and your dog's. A dog hell-bent on chasing a cat may not notice other dangers, like traffic, that could result in his injury as well.
German Shepherds are large, energetic, strong, intelligent, and often dominant and prey driven dogs. This means they are very likely to chase cats in their home, yard or neighborhood. Because of their size, a German Shepherd that is aggressive to cats can pose a serious danger to a cat. Even if your German Shepherd only wants to play, a 100-pound Shepherd that lands on a 10-pound cat can severely injure or even kill a cat unintentionally, not to mention the danger that both animals could encounter during the chase from traffic or by becoming separated from owners and homes. For these reasons, you are going to want to teach your German Shepherd not to chase cats. The appropriate response when your Shepherd encounters a cat in your home or neighborhood is to either ignore the cat or wait in a non-threatening and friendly position for the cat to approach him--that is, if the cat wants to. Cats can be rather uncooperative when your dog just wants to be friends!
To teach your German Shepherd not to chase cats, you will probably need to engage a cat. If you have a cat in your home, you can work with your cat. Otherwise, you may need to find someone with a cat that is willing to help out. Choosing a cat with a little bit of attitude, that is not afraid of large dogs, will help tremendously. A cat that does not run is hard to chase. Be sure, however, to protect both animals during training. You don't want your volunteer cat to be injured by an aggressive Shepherd, or even a playful one, and you don't want your Shepherd to end up with a badly scratched face from an irritated feline. Using barriers, leashes, and a hard sided carrier when working with the animals to provide protection is advised. Using treats or toys to distract and reinforce calm, non-chasing behavior during training will be required.